Saturday, May 28, 2011

Your Career and You: "Kneejerk Actions Won't Work"

I had an unexpected...but totally from a newly-graduated senior earlier this week relating to his job search post graduation. Basically, he had no clue how to start (and apparently has done zero preparation for) this new phase of his now-adult life.

He's posted his resume on (now there is a giant waste of time!), is (finally) on LinkedIn, and is following me on Twitter. Oy!

I say "unexpected" because this fellow has not once spoken to me in the four months I've known him...including the two classes he took with me this past semester!!...about his interests or intent after graduation.

Now the reality has set in, and he asks "which companies should I apply to?"

Nothing about "here's what I'm interested in" or "I've done a couple of internships and have found that I like/am good at..."

Nope. Just "which companies should I apply to?"

As perfect an example of "kneejerk" job search planning as I have come across recently.

I also said "unsurprising" earlier because I am constantly nagging my PR concentration troops at Curry College, where I oversee the Public Relations concentration and teach most of the PR courses, to start their planning their sophomore year, junior at the latest. Don't wait until final semester of your senior year!

Most of them are starting to listen to me...some not so much. And there's not a whole lot I can do other than keep on nagging.

And a this fellow...choose to ignore my advice.

So be it. As the old saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." The same holds true with some college students and life preparation. Just like doing assignments ahead of time rather than 10 minutes before class.

Back to my young feller and his now-jerky knee.

I suggested (two days ago...haven't heard "boo" since) that he venture over to Curry College's Career Services office to look through their excellent database of job opportunities and other information and get his thoughts focused on areas he might be interested in or jobs that sound like something he would like to learn more about.

Then, I suggested, he should get back to me with a better focus on what he'd like to explore. I'm are many of my PR (and other fields) colleagues in the Boston area and help young people out with their initial foray into the working world. But we're not mind-readers; nor are we miracle-workers.

The bottom line, as I sit here in rainy downtown Taipei, Taiwan, on vacation(-ish), is that, particularly in today's highly competitive job market, planning and preparation are crucial to success. Kneejerk actions simply will NOT work!

"Amid a multitude of projects, no plan is devised." ~ Publius Syrus (42 B.C.)


Friday, May 13, 2011

Your Career and You: "On to the 'Other' Side"

The past two weeks have been filled with activities and emotions that, while normal...especially in academia...still manage to raise stress levels to astronomical highs.

End of semester. End of year. End of college life. On to the "other side" for my senior student friends at Curry College and my graduate degree friends at Regis College.

If it's possible to be "fearfully intrepid," they're doing it. I can tell in part from Facebook updates, scattered emails, and ad hoc meetings in the Student Center and elsewhere.

The training wheels are off and the water wings stored away. Resumes are and edit.

To put it in the words of the inimitable Phineas T. Barnum, "It's SHOW TIME!"

And it is, my young friends. You're moving on into what is, for most of you, the third ring of the circus that is life. The first was high school; the second, college.

I call it "circus" for good reason. There will be thrills; there will be chills; and, occasionally, they will send in the clowns when things don't go well.

But you will always have the safety net beneath, even if you don't see it. It's your family...your friends...and, yes, your professors...all of whom will be there cheering you on and ready to pick you up and dust you off when you you will once or twice...along the way.

But you will succeed. Why? Because you can, and I believe...deeply and fervently...that you can.

You've made me very, very your professor, your friend, your mentor, your nagging conscience. You've discovered the spark that will light the way to your future.

You're ready to move on to the other side of an independent, capable, promising young professional.

Life is good.

"Farewell to you and the youth I have spent with you.
It was but yesterday we met in a dream.
You have sung to me in my aloneness, and I of your longings have built a tower in the sky.
But now our sleep has fled and our dream is over, and it is no longer dawn.
The noontide is upon us and our half waking has turned to fuller day, and we must part.
If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song.
And if our hands should meet in another dream we shall build another tower in the sky."
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet - "The Farewell"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Your Career and You: "Talk to Me!"

It's the end of yet another semester and another year, and all kinds of thoughts are racing through my head.

"What difference did I make this year?" ... "Will my superstars continue to shine post graduation?" ... "What did I learn?"

These thoughts started bubbling after a chat I had with a student at Curry College...a graduating senior, I learned...who had switched her major to Communication and found that she really enjoyed the field, in particular the Public Relations aspect.

My response upon learning this? "I wish we had had this conversation a year go, when we could have worked out a plan of action for you."

We parted agreeing that we would continue this dialogue over the summer and that I would work with her to help identify some potential avenues to pursue for employment.

To put it mildly, I was surprised that this student had just now floated onto my radar screen. Am I the only faculty member with whom she has come in contact who has urged her to explore her options...her strengths...and her passions?

She's a very good communicator. Didn't this strength show through in any of her other courses?

She's very focused and organized. Ditto.

She loves thinking through and solving problems. Hmmm...

But that was then...and now she and I have a plan. And maybe these attributes simply didn't rise to the surface previously.

That's what makes this gig I'm doing now so much fun...opportunities to uncover, usually by accident, budding PR superstars. Not only that, but being able to work with them to sort out the myriad possibilities available to them depending on their interests and their strengths.

It's often a pleasant surprise for both of us, as in (me saying) "I had no idea you were interested in that area. Cool! Let's figure out where you should start looking!"

And, from the other side of the conversation: "I've always been interested in that area. I just didn't know that I would also become interested in public relations and that I could combine those two interests."

Your basic "win-win."

It all starts with simple but meaningful conversations, though, and you, as a student/soon-to-be graduate, have to take the lead. I can't read your mind. Talk to me.

Mention to me, even casually, things that you enjoy doing...hobbies, leisure activities, books you've read...stuff that gives me a clearer picture of you the "non-student," the human being.

Then I can start mentioning to you things that fall into one or more of those areas of interest that have a public relations (or other...I really don't expect everyone to want to go into PR!) focus.

Talk to me!

"And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand." - Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, "On Talking."